Posted May 10, 2011 08:07 pm CDT
Updated: When more than 100 prospective jurors entered a courtroom in Pinellas County, Fla., yesterday, many presumably thought they were facing perhaps one or two days hearing testimony in a routine local trial, at most.
However, they were being considered not only as jurors for a high-profile murder trial but one that is going to be tried in Orange County Superior Court, several hours away, reports the St. Petersburg Times.
Informed that they were potentially looking at a six- or eight-week all-expenses paid trip to Orlando where they will be sequestered for the first-degree murder trial of Casey Anthony in the death of her two-year-old daughter, a number of prospective jurors blanched. A mother of a seven-month-old baby and a home restorer who said he would be evicted if he didn’t get a full day’s pay for two months were among those promptly excused.
However, some saw no problem with the plan. Among those who raised no objection to earning $30 a day as a juror in the case were a student on summer break and an unemployed man, the newspaper says.
Although the judge expects to limit the jurors’ television and Internet access, among other restrictions, he will allow them, for example, to pay bills online. And that could well pose problems, a trial advocacy professor at Stetson University College of Law tells the Times.
“If I was the judge, the first thing I’d do is take the phones away and limit Internet access,” said Charles Rose, predicting that someone on the panel will risk a mistrial by tweeting about the trial or searching Wikipedia for information related to the case.
Ironically, a potential witness in the case already has turned up among the initial jury prospects, leading Judge Belvin Perry to dismiss a group of about 50 and call for another panel to be brought in, reports the Orlando Sentinel.
Perry let the group go after learning that the potential witness had discussed the Anthony case with a number of other prospective jurors. He plans to increase security tomorrow to put a tighter lid on any further such discussions.
ABAJournal.com: “Secret Jury-Select Plan Appealed in Casey Anthony Murder Case; Similar Issue Wins Reversal in Wash.”
ABAJournal.com: “Against Casey Anthony’s Objections, Judge Allows Her Parents at Trial”
Updated at 3:50 p.m. to include Orlando Sentinel coverage.